- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2003


A rescue flight yesterday transported an ailing worker from an American research station at the South Pole, the facility’s management company said.

The Twin Otter aircraft took off from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station at about 5 a.m. EDT en route to the British Rothera Air Station about 1,350 miles away, said Valerie Carroll of Raytheon Polar Services Co.

By 11:20 a.m. EDT the plane had passed the point of no return, meaning that it was committed to flying to Rothera, Miss Carroll said. It was expected to arrive at the British base on Antarctica at about 2:15 p.m. EDT, she said.

The flight had been delayed for days because of wind and snow during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring season, and harsh weather remained a danger, Miss Carroll said.

“Definitely the weather at the bottom of the world is very fickle in the spring,” she said.

The airplane arrived at the pole on Saturday and stayed overnight. From Rothera it will fly to Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile.

The ill employee, whose name is being withheld at his request, can walk but may need surgery. Raytheon has declined to confirm reports that he is suffering from a bladder infection.

The Twin Otter is a rugged twin-engine plane designed for rough weather and capable of landing on small landing strips.

It is the third such rescue from the South Pole station in four years, and is occurring in darkness. The sun doesn’t come up at the South Pole until tomorrow.

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